A guest post by Anthony D. Fredericks.
As a former teacher, I am well aware of the compelling research demonstrating how involved parents have children who 1) evidence very positive attitudes towards learning, 2) have higher levels of self-esteem, and 3) demonstrate considerable engagement in academic endeavors. That parental participation assures students a most vibrant and successful academic experience. Here are some strategies on how you can partner with your child’s teacher – promising that the academic year ahead will be the best ever!
9 Ways to Partner with Your Child’s Teacher This Year
1. Share Your Child.
Just before the new school year begins, message your child’s teacher with pertinent information about her academic strengths, personality dynamics, scholastic challenges, hobbies and interests, favorite books/authors, and any health issues. Keep the note or email short and friendly and you’ll be initiating a positive relationship that will pay off throughout the year.
2. Maintain Open Lines of Communication.
Keep your child’s teacher up to date on any issues or concerns surrounding your child. If she is dealing with an emotional crisis, social problem, or health matter, make sure her teacher is well-informed. If you note any changes in behavior, falling grades, or peer interactions contact the teacher at the first sign.
3. Volunteer in the Classroom.
If you have the time, volunteer in your child’s classroom. Reading stories to kids, creating manipulatives, or tutoring a child in math demonstrate that you actively support the learning going on at school. That sends a very powerful message to both your child and the teacher.
4. Practice Positive Communication.
How you converse (either verbally or in writing) will have a decided impact on the teacher-parent relationship. Instead of using “You statements,” send “I messages.” Here’s an example: NO – “You are giving Bobby way too much homework; he never has time for soccer.” YES – “I have some questions about Bobby’s math homework. Can we chat?”
5. Demonstrate Respect.
Remember that your child isn’t the only one in the classroom. Your child’s teacher has to deal with many different personalities and many different learning challenges every day. Don’t make unreasonable demands on the teacher that may interfere with the learning of others. If you think your child needs special exceptions or accommodations, it is far better to ask than demand.
6. Read to Your Child Every Day.
Decades of educational research has proven that being read to is the most significant factor in a child’s overall academic success…throughout her scholastic career. The best (and easiest) way to support what your child is learning in the classroom is to make reading time a regular part of your family activities.
7. Making Real World Connections.
Helping children see the relevance of what they are learning in the classroom with the outside world is key. Point out numbers while in the grocery store. Show kids important words on billboards, signs, and advertisements. Take family trips to museums, zoos, plays, concerts, and art galleries. The more experiences a child has, the more connections she will be able to make between classroom learning and its application in the real world.
With all the outside activities (e.g. baseball practice, piano lessons, ballet class) going on, kids still need a specific period set aside to tackle homework assignments. A designated time and place each day (e.g. 7:00-7:45; desk in bedroom) to accomplish academic work helps establish its importance.
9. Show Appreciation.
You know how you feel when someone gives you a hug when you least expect it…or a dozen roses…or a special dinner after a long day? Teachers work long hours with many challenges and little recognition. Make their day by sending an occasional email, a birthday card, or a note of appreciation. Some “verbal hugs” every now and again will certainly cement a most positive and productive relationship.
BONUS: Ask the Right Question.
When your child gets home from school, instead of asking, “What did you learn in school today?” ask her, “What questions did you ask today?” Pose that query on a regular basis and the clear message, no matter what age your child, will be that learning is connected to the questions we ask. In turn, you’ll have some healthy after-school discussions and will begin to see a positive difference in her academic achievement, too.
The partnership you actively establish (and maintain) with your child’s teacher sends a very powerful message…to both your child and her teacher. By working in concert, you and the teacher can effect an academic relationship that will pay enormous dividends throughout the coming year. Expect great things together and great things will happen!
Anthony D. Fredericks (www.anthonydfredericks.com) is a former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and professor of education (he’s now retired). He is also an award-winning children’s author of more than 50 books. His titles include Tall Tall Tree (2018 CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book) and Desert Night, Desert Day (2015 Grand Canyon Reader Award – Finalist). His latest writing instruction book (Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know from Story Creation to Getting Published) is being released to rave reviews (“This new guide for aspiring children’s book writers is candid, practical and unbelievably comprehensive.”).